Who doesn’t know the famous Medusa, snake hair and petrifying gaze?
Not everyone, however, perhaps knows, as the myth tells, that Medusa has not always been a monster, indeed, in the beginning, she was a splendid girl who had developed the ability to seduce men with just her eyes, even Poseidon had fallen in love with her.
Legend has it that Medusa was transformed into a monster by Athena, as a punishment for lying with (or being raped by) Poseidon in one of her temples, while according to other versions, Athena was against Medusa because she had dared to compete with her in beauty.
She was relegated on a distant island, where the other Gorgons, Stenus and Euryalus, also lived there, two demigods who, unlike Medusa, were immortal and did not age.
The king of Serifos, Polydette, sent Perseus to kill Medusa, thus thinking of getting rid of him in order to be able to marry his mother; once Perseus reached the place where the Gorgons lived, he found them sleeping: with the hand guided by Athena and looking at the reflection in the shield to avoid being petrified, he managed to behead Medusa: from the wound came out the horse Pegasus, the giant Crisaore and the children that the Gorgon expected from Poseidon.
Perseus took with him the head of Medusa, which he had not lost the power to petrify with her gaze, and used it as a weapon against numerous other adversaries and enemies.
There have been numerous works that have been inspired by this myth over the centuries, among the best known, the painting by Caravaggio “Shield with the head of Medusa” and the statue Perseus with the head of Medusa by Benvenuto Cellini (1545-1554).
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